France could lose defensive prospect Laporte to Spain with squad snub
Promising French defender Aymeric Laporte has continued to be overlooked by his senior international side, with Didier Deschamps leaving the Atheltic Bilbao talent out of his latest Les Bleus squad, and it’s an exclusion that could soon prove to be a hindrance.
The 21-year-old has never been summoned for senior duty, despite captaining his country at various youth levels from the Under-17s up to Under-21s, but now the centre back has declared he would consider playing for Spain if he doesn’t get called-up by France before next summer.
His home nation are the hosts for Euro 2016 and 7/2 second-favourites with Coral to claim their third European crown but, with time ticking, they could lose one of their most promising defensive starlets to rivals Spain, who are currently rocked by injuries in that particular position.
Basque defender Laporte has been with his current club since the age of 15 and is eligible to represent the Spanish national side, with experienced coach Vicente del Bosque potentially set to look into this intriguing option after the player’s comments.
Laporte penned a new four-year deal at the San Mames to thwart increased interest from the likes of Premier League duo Manchester United and their blue city rivals this summer, but the youngster has announced he would consider a switch of national allegiances.
“As I have said before, I would prefer to represent France – as long as the coach has faith in me but that option hasn’t been put to me. The European Championships are very important – tournaments like this don’t come along every day; I have to think it over and see what happens,” said Laporte.
Set to remain in his current surroundings until 2019, Laporte’s latest contract renewal averted any interest from English sides with a mammoth €50m release clause cunningly included, though attention from other clubs around Europe has persisted.
“My name always crops up when the market opens and a lot of teams have expressed an interest in signing me; I’ve renewed my contract four times – that was what I wanted to do,” Laporte continued.
“I have shown that I am committed to Athletic and they have shown loyalty to me. Let’s hope that we can add another cup to the trophy room – I’d like a more important trophy than the Supercup so we can take the gabarra [a boat] out, the most amazing thing in Bilbao.”
Seemingly happy within his current club setting, the versatile 6ft 2in defender could benefit Del Boque hugely in their attempts to retain the European title next year on Laporte’s home soil, and they are 6/1 to do so.
The reigning champions sit strongly at the summit of qualifying Group C, but have been forced to field no less than five different combinations at the back in their eight clashes so far, with regular switching unavoidable due to a constant flow of injuries.
To add to their rearguard woes, Del Bosque is guaranteed to field a sixth alternative defensive look against Luxembourg after a fresh wave of untimely knocks to key players, with Sergio Ramos and Dani Carvajal both carrying physical issues.
Eventually calling Frenchman Laporte into his set-up would be no new task for Del Bosque, having already swiped Chelsea’s ferocious Brazil-born frontman into his squad for last summer’s World Cup. Although, sought-after Bilbao talent Laporte’s home nation could come calling soon after his indiscreet, public plea.
Deschamps’ current France squad features Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane, an untouchable figure in that French spine, but Laporte may feel hard done by with indifferent Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho, Lyon veteran Christophe Jallet and Chelsea rotation-player Kurt Zouma chosen ahead of him.
Euro 2016 takes place on the 21-year-old’s home turf next summer but, whether the Laporte is donning the same international colours he has been since Under-17 or switching to red and yellow at the tournament remains unclear with less than nine months to go.